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Focusing cloud on the client

By Scott Gaydos

Chief Technologist

HP Enterprise Services, U.S. Public Sector, Federal Healthcare

 

The options available for cloud services continue to expand for enterprise clients. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it can be exceedingly difficult to determine if Cloud Service Provider X or Y has configured and certified their service to meet the specific needs of your industry. Take healthcare, for example. Specific regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established data protections long ago (in cloud-time anyway), requiring entities dealing with individual patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI) to prevent any unauthorized access and/or disclosure of that information. If you’re a healthcare organization and you’ve spent the last few years ensuring that your data stores, networks, compute infrastructure, and data policy and procedures are adequately protecting PHI, how comfortable are you moving that data to the infrastructure of a Cloud Service Provider just because their marketing suggests you might save some dollars on operational IT expenses?

 

drapp.jpgThis is where alignment to industry and client mission separates generic cloud service providers from those that understand and invest in the specifics of what matters to their customers’ actual business. The needs of U.S. government organizations, for instance healthcare-oriented U.S. government organizations, place additional demands on cloud services. Requirements—such as 100 percent U.S.-based support, security postures aligning to U.S. government needs and, for healthcare organizations, compliance to even further regulations such as HIPAA—are necessary for these clients to reap the benefits offered by cloud services.

 

The first step in providing cloud services that meet these industry/mission requirements is achieving Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization. FedRAMP is a U.S. government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

 

Cloud services afford clients the ability to reduce capital IT expense, enjoy flexible IT services, and return valuable time and effort to one’s business mission. But like anything else, trying to make the generic fit your specific goals can be challenging. That’s why organizations like HP invest in differentiating technologies, services, and solutions that align to the specific industries and missions of our clients. For instance, HP’s Enterprise Cloud Services—Virtual Private Cloud (ECS-VPC) for U.S. Public Sector was granted FedRAMP authorization early this year. Additionally, HP also took independent steps to assess the regulatory compliance of the ECS-VPC for U.S. Public Sector. We requested a Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) to review ECS-VPC for compliance against specific client workloads such as those subject to regulations such as HIPAA. The 3PAO subsequently issued a favorable report/assessment against these highly-specific requirements indicating that this service provides “increased security for healthcare clients.” This type of approach allows clients to confidently leverage the benefits of the cloud.

 

I would love to hear your own challenges, faced when looking for cloud solutions that need to match your industry/mission needs. Can you “get by” with generic or are you finding, much like the U.S. government, that you too have specific needs not yet met by industry? Please share your thoughts with the community.

Comments
tomasbavington | ‎01-08-2014 12:51 PM

Now that it's 2014 it's clear just how true this article is, cloud is becoming ubiquituous in modern society and a crucial part of business processes. As someone who works in IT recruitment I can confirm seeing a marked increase in the demand for infrastructure professionals with experience in cloud technologies.

The author touches on the new jobs that have been created from this, but see my article (shameless but relevant plug): http://www.vmrinfrastructure.com/community/817/2012-2013-looking-back-on-the-cloud-job-market/ for a deeper look at the influence of the cloud job market.

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